We were at the movies recently, and after the abominable trailer for The Spirit played, the girl sitting next to us turned to her friend, laughed and said, “Samuel Jackson needs to stop making movies.” Perhaps Mr. Jackson would do well in hiring this mystery woman to be his agent. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he’s signed on to star as Sho’Nuff in a remake of The Last Dragon, the cult 80s karate picture that was spawned from the fertile mind of Motown’s Berry Gordy. For those of you not familiar with the original Dragon, Sho’Nuff was played with eye-bugging glee by the late Julius Carry, in a performance that could only be described as a precursor for every Samuel L. Jackson role ever.
It’s not that we’re against The Last Dragon; when we were kids, we watched that film on Channel 11 more than we’d care to admit. And casting Mr. Jackson as Sho’Nuff is as obvious as casting Tina Fey to play Sarah Palin. But when you put The Last Dragon next to the rest of Mr. Jackson’s work, you start to see a pattern. Simply put, he makes terrible movies. And with each passing film, his performances seem to be getting worse: more over-the-top, more self-referential, more stunted.
Mr. Jackson was brilliant in Pulp Fiction, but even before that breakthrough, he drew notices with many strong supporting performances. However since the post-Pulp Fiction luster wore off and after good roles in films like Die Hard with a Vengeance and Jackie Brown, seeing Mr. Jackson’s name on a poster now means you need to run in the opposite direction. How many Lakeview Terrace‘s and Freedomland‘s does he really need to make? With the exception of The Incredibles, the man hasn’t done a good movie in ten years. It’s gotten so bad at this point, we don’t even know what kind of actor Mr. Jackson is anymore. He has no identity beyond being “Samuel L. motherfuckin’ Jackson”, and we doubt starring in a remake of The Last Dragon is going to do much to change that.
Can we ever look at Samuel L. Jackson and take him seriously again? We can hope, but we doubt.